Statement of Ethical Principles

Download Ethical Principles

1. Introduction

Professional Operational Researchers work to enhance the welfare, health and safety of all whilst paying due regard to the environment and the sustainability of resources. They have made personal and professional commitments to enhance the wellbeing of society through the exploitation of knowledge and the management of creative teams.

This Statement of Ethical Principles sets a standard to which members of the operational research profession should aspire in their working habits and relationships. The Statement is fully compatible with the principles in the UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser's Universal Ethical Code for Scientists*, with an emphasis on matters of particular relevance to operational researchers. The values on which it is based should apply in every situation in which professional operational researchers exercise their judgement.


The Society recognises the work of the EURO (The Association of European Operational Research Societies) Working Group on Ethics and OR, details of which can be found at:

2. Our Ethical Principles

There are four fundamental principles that should guide an operational researcher in achieving the high ideals of professional life. These express the beliefs and values of the profession and are amplified below.

2.1 Accuracy and Rigour

Professional Operational Researchers have a duty to ensure that they acquire and use wisely and faithfully the knowledge that is relevant to the analytic skills needed in their work in the service of others. They should:

  • always act with care and competence;
  • perform services only in areas of current competence;
  • keep their knowledge and skills up to date and assist the development of analytic knowledge and skills in others;
  • not knowingly mislead or allow others to be misled about matters relating to their professional practice;
  • present and review evidence, theory and interpretation honestly, accurately and without bias; and
  • identify and evaluate and, where possible, quantify risks.

2.2 Honesty and Integrity

Professional Operational Researchers should adopt the highest standards of professional conduct, openness, fairness and honesty. They should:

  • be alert to the ways in which their work might affect others and duly respect the rights and reputations of other parties;
  • avoid deceptive acts, take steps to prevent corrupt practices or professional misconduct, and declare conflicts of interest;
  • reject bribery or improper influence; and
  • act for each employer or client in a reliable and trustworthy manner.

2.3 Respect for Life, Law and the Public Good

Professional Operational Researchers should give due weight to all relevant law, facts and published guidance, and the wider public interest. They should:

  • ensure that all work is lawful and justified;
  • minimise and justify any adverse effect on society or on the natural environment for their own and succeeding generations;
  • hold paramount the health and safety of others; and
  • act honourably, responsibly and lawfully and uphold the reputation, standing and dignity of the profession.

2.4 Responsible Leadership: Listening and Informing

Professional Operational Researchers should aspire to high standards of leadership in the application of their skills, knowledge and expertise.

They hold a privileged and trusted position in society, and are expected to demonstrate that they are seeking to serve wider society and to be sensitive to public concerns. They should:

  • be aware of the issues that operational research and its application raise for society, and listen to the aspirations and concerns of others;
  • actively promote public awareness and understanding of the impact and benefits of operational research achievements; and
  • be objective and truthful in any statement made in their professional capacity.

3. Acknowledgement

This statement is closely based on the principles developed by the Royal Academy of Engineering, in collaboration with the Engineering Council (UK).